MAA Iowa Section Newsletter
Spring 2012

This is the web edition of the Iowa Section Newsletter. To receive a printed copy of the newsletter or to make suggestions/comments, please contact the editor, Amanda Matson,


Section Governor's Report

no report submitted

Section Chair's Report

No report submitted.

Section Treasurer's Report

One can view the report from the treasurer.

Iowa Section NExT Announcement

Like usual, the MAA's Iowa section will be holding activities for our Iowa-NExT group on the Friday before the sectional meeting. Iowa NExT fellows are invited to join us for our informal workshops and lunch before the section meeting on Friday. All pre-tenure faculty and senior grad students can apply to be Iowa-NExT fellows. Download the application from Iowa-NExT part of this site. If you know of such people in your department, please encourage them to apply.

2012 Iowa Collegiate Mathematics Competition

The 18th annual Iowa Collegiate Math Competition was held on Feb.25, 2012, at the Univ. of Iowa. We had 38 teams from 13 different Colleges and Universities participating, This year's winner is "Iowa City West Varsity Team 1" from IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY A close second was "What's Your Problem?", a combined Drake/Wartburg team And a 3 way tie for 3rd place between: "Lemma Llama" and "Lemma Lemur" both from Cornell, and "Score" from ISU. Next year's competition will be held at ISU, the exact date will be announced on the competition site later this Fall.

See the contest page for further information. For questions or comment, contact:

Ruth Berger
Luther College

Dates of Importance

August 2-4, 2012 - MathFest 2012, Madison, Wisconsin.

October 5-6, 2012 - Annual Meeting of the Iowa Section, Simpson College, Cedar Rapids.

January 9-12, 2013 - Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego, California.

Departmental News

The following items have been submitted by the liaisons for the corresponding departments. If your department has news that is not included, please contact your liaison so that it can be included.

Reports are pending, please check back later.

Central College
Russ Goodman

Wendy Weber spent a year serving as an Associate Academic Dean while keeping her faculty role.

The department hired alum Andrew Larson to teach for a year in replacement of Wendy.

The department was successful in placing a number of students in summer internships and REUs.

The department (led by Wendy Weber) hosted the Little Hawkeye Math Contest for the second year in a row.

Russ Goodman had a sabbatical in the fall of 2011 and wrote two articles. Al Hibbard will have a sabbatical in spring 2013.

Clarke University
Amanda Matson

Clarke College is now Clarke University.

Also, Amanda Matson has stepped up as newsletter editor for the Iowa section of the MAA. This means that your e-mails are coming from a different source than previously, please tell your friends to check their SPAM filters for newsletter updates.

Luther College
Ruth Berger

In the last couple of years Reg Laursen and Walt Will retired and we were able to hire two new tenure track faculty:
Mike Johnson joined us in the Fall of 2010. He received his PhD in 2007 from Northwestern University and started his career as a visiting assistant professor at Temple and Swarthmore. His interest area is dynamical systems.
Kyle Fey joined us in the Fall of 2011. Kyle is a national Project Next fellow, he received his PhD in 2011 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His interest area is Mathematical Biology. Kyle did his undergraduate studies at Dordt College.

Paul Savariappan was granted tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. His most recent publications are:

Eric Westlund took a sabbatical in Fall 2011 to study continuous dynamical systems and identify some topics for undergraduate research projects.

Last summer we invited Paul Pearson from Fort Lewis College to lead a department faculty workshop on Webwork. Our proficiency exams for students entering PreCalculus and Calculus I & II are now online, which is a vast improvement over the previous paper version. Mike Johnson is our local administrator for WebWork.

Last summer several of our students gained valuable experiences from participating in REUs throughout the county. Several more have been accepted into REUs for this summer.

One Luther team was a successful participant in the 2012 Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM), and 2 Luther teams participated in the Iowa Undergraduate Collegiate Mathematics Competition this Spring.

The Luther class of 2011 included 17 mathematics majors and 7 math-stat majors.

University of Iowa
Keith Stroyan

Girls can't do math?

The U of I Mathematics Department recently recommended promotion and tenure for 4 outstanding young mathematicians. One is an expert in the mathematics of neuroscience, another has developed important mathematical models of the heart that help us understand the causes for certain types of heart disease, a third is an expert on knot theory (like knots in a rope or DNA molecules), and a fourth is a rising star in the study of nonlinear Schreoedinger equations. One of them received a 2011 Collegiate Teaching Award, another runs a summer program to encourage underprivileged kids to study math, a third received a "Professors who make a difference" citation from a graduating senior, the fourth received a Sloan fellowship. They're all well-liked teachers in a wide variety of courses. Oh, and they all happen to be women. They show in the strongest terms that girls can grow up to have outstanding careers in math.

In recent years, the Math Department has been able to hire a number of excellent and very promising young professors. It turned out this year that all of the ones reaching this important stage in their career are women. The department has a number of excellent women at levels from undergraduates to graduate students up to senior professors and we have worked to encourage this with our annual "Sonia Kovalevsky Days", a program for high school girls from across Iowa. We want them to know that girls can grow up to have important careers in math and disciplines that use math. We're very pleased to be associated with the wonderful accomplishments of Rodica Curtu, Colleen Mitchell, Maggy Tomova, and Xiaoyi Zhang. Men and women, boys and girls, all can take inspiration from their work. Girls (and boys) CAN do math and these professors show many different ways how it's done.

Wartburg College
Mariah Birgen

1. Dr. Lynn Olson retired
2. Dr. Mariah Birgen and Dr. Charlie Figura were promoted to Professor
3. Dr. Neil Martensen-Burrell was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor
4. Dr. Joy Becker was hired.
5. We are hosting Mathematical Sciences Visit Day at Wartburg on November 14, 2011.
6. We are hosting the American Mathematics Competition 10 and 12 for High School students on February 22, 2012.